Identifying and analyzing emerging trends in campaigns and elections.

Senate Races: Nebraska Race Changes Focus, Handel Closing in Georgia

In Polling, Senate on May 9, 2014 at 2:14 pm

Nebraska Race Changes Focus

Often times in a multi-candidate primary field when two candidates isolate each other and begin firing and returning charges, a third contender comes unscathed from the outside to claim the nomination.

In the Nebraska Senate race, non-connected conservative organizations have been targeting the early front-runner, former state treasurer and military veteran Shane Osborn (R), making him the subject of their attack ads in hopes that university president Ben Sasse (R) could overtake him and become the Republican nominee. Sensing movement from the outside, groups such as the Club for Growth and the Madison Project, are now spinning a negative message against banker Sid Dinsdale, a self-funding candidate who is dropping almost $1 million of his own money in a stretch drive media run in an attempt to snatch an up-for-grabs nomination right at the end.

The Club for Growth released an ad (above) attacking Dinsdale as a “liberal” for his pledged support to increase the debt ceiling and making previous comments discussing his belief that some of the Obamacare legislation could bring positive effects. The Madison Project, also heavily invested in this campaign for Sasse, calls Dinsdale a “counterfeit” conservative in their statewide radio buy. Now Dinsdale is directly responding to the third-party groups, an unenviable position for any candidate (video at top).

Polling has indicated a close contest between Osborn and Sasse. Osborn has been losing momentum, a result of absorbing the blows from heavy attack media, but still has enough time to turn things around. Sasse has been consistently gaining, but has he topped out? And, just how much of a wild card is Dinsdale? These questions will be answered in next Tuesday’s primary. The Republican primary is for the seat. The winner will succeed retiring Sen. Mike Johanns (R).

Handel Closing in Georgia

With the May 20 Georgia Republican primary fast approaching, another new poll places businessman David Perdue and former Secretary of State Karen Handel in the two available run-off positions. According to a new Handel campaign survey (Rosetta Stone Communications, May 6 – 729 pre-screened Georgia Republican primary voters via Interactive Voice Response system), Perdue again places first with 23 percent followed by Handel at 21 percent. Following are the three congressmen: representatives Jack Kingston (R-GA-1) 15 percent, Paul Broun (R-GA-10) 9 percent and Phil Gingrey (R-GA-11) 8 percent.

At the end of April, Insider Advantage (April 27-28 – 737 registered Georgia Republican primary voters) found similar standings: Perdue 22 percent, Handel 21 percent, Kingston 17 percent, Broun 14 percent, and Gingrey 12 percent.

Though an internal campaign poll, these results appear realistic, particularly when considering the projected order of finish. Of all five major candidates, it is most likely that Perdue will advance to the secondary election based upon all available data.

Handel’s qualifying for the run-off is certainly a possibility but she ranks last in fundraising, a negative point that should factor heavily in the stretch drive. It is important to remember that during the 2010 gubernatorial race, she placed first within a similar-sized field of candidates running for governor. Though Handel easily qualified for the run-off that year, former US Rep. Nathan Deal (R-GA-9) nipped her in the close post-primary vote. As you might remember, Deal then went onto win the general election and now seeks a second term as governor this year.

The Georgia Senate race continues to be one of the more interesting campaigns with national ramifications. Though the current trends seem to be favoring Perdue most particularly, and Handel secondarily, none of the five aforementioned contenders are necessarily eliminated, and any combination of participants could still advance into the two-person run-off.

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